MORE INCENTIVES FOR ARMY VETERANS
Every veteran group will benefit, says Hisham
FERNANDO FONG KUALA LUMPUR email@example.com
THE government will announce more incentives for Malaysian Armed Forces veterans “very soon”, said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
He said the Defence Ministry was finalising housing, health, education and training incentives for veterans.
He said the initiatives would benefit every veteran group regardless of whether they were pensioners or non-pensioners, adding that their family members would also benefit.
“The government has taken into consideration various factors, findings, views and feedback before implementing the incentives.
“It is not easy to implement these initiatives. For Bantuan Bakti Negara (BBN) only, for example, the government needs to spend more than RM85 million a year,” he said.
Hishammuddin was referring to the announcement of five new schemes, including annual assistance for non-pensionable veterans and an annuity scheme, by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Monday.
Najib announced a RM5 million allocation for the Warriors’ Fund 2017 and the increase in the haj quota for veterans from 100 to 400, starting this year.
The announcement was made in front of more than 15,000 veterans at the MAF Veterans Assembly, in conjunction with the launch of the Warriors’ Fund 2017.
Hishammuddin said initiatives had been implemented to improve the welfare of veterans and their family members since he led the ministry four years ago.
These, he said, included the 1Malaysia Veteran House Repair Programme, the construction of affordable housing, Public University Admittance Assistance Scheme for children of veterans, construction of Armed Forces Polyclinic, Prior Experiential Learning Recognition Program and Natural Disaster Relief Scheme.
Hishammuddin introduced the Insurgency Special Incentive Payment for veterans who sustained injuries during the Emergency.
He said the livelihood assistance incentives for veterans without a stable income had been increased to RM300 a month.
The minimum age requirement for this assistance, he said, had been reduced from 65 to 60 years old.
He said he had instructed the setting up of a Veteran Call Centre, which served as a channel between veterans and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The call centre will act as a platform for veterans to share news, lodge complaints or relay information that can help the government improve their welfare.
He said no veteran would be left out despite concerns that Najib’s announcement on Monday had mostly touched on welfare incentives for non-pensionable veterans and disabled veterans.
“In today’s uncertain economic situation, we need to give priority to those who really need it. These non-pensioners need to be helped.
“They have no fixed income and do not have monthly pension, let alone enjoy the annual pension increase,” he said.
He called on veterans to support the government’s efforts to help their non-pensionable friends in the name of friendship and chivalry.
He said the livelihood and welfare of veterans remained a priority for the government, and that more would be done for them in the future.
“The government appreciates the contributions and sacrifices of veterans and their family members, including veterans with pension, who have proven themselves to be loyal until the end of their service,” he said.
Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein